Walkers, cyclists and horse riders can follow in the footsteps of Hampshire’s famous and much loved author, Jane Austen, on the new Writers’ Way trail.
The launch of the route earlier this month marked the first of Hampshire County Council’s events to celebrate the bicentenary of Austen’s death.
The trail links existing public rights of way and small, quiet country lanes from Jane Austen’s former home in Chawton, through Alton, to Selborne - the home of pioneering 18th century naturalist Gilbert White, whose book, The Natural History of Selborne, is reputed to be the most published book in the world, after the Bible, Shakespeare and Pilgrim’s Progress. The trail, which ends in Four Marks, is also associated with William Cobbett who wrote Rural Rides, to highlight the difficult living conditions faced by rural families in the 19th century.
Born in Steventon, near Basingstoke in December 1775, Austen spent her childhood there before eventually settling in Chawton where she wrote Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Emma. Ill health brought her to Winchester for the last six weeks of her life. She died in July 1817, aged 41, and is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
Throughout the year, County Council staff in libraries, countryside and Hampshire Record Office are holding a wide mix of events for all ages to enjoy including exhibitions and performances.
Hampshire Archives and Local Studies has a fascinating collection of Austen related artefacts, including a fake marriage entry Austen wrote as a teenager, which will be going on display at Winchester Discovery Centre from May to July, as part of the Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition.
Hampshire Library Service has been busy working with Hampshire Cultural Trust and Hampshire Record Office to host rare Jane Austen portraits. The Trust and Hampshire Library Service have also produced a Jane Austen picnic pack, hosted online and in branches, full of fun activities to enjoy this summer.
Find out about how you can get involved in the Jane Austen 200 celebrations in your community.